Faulkner under cloud for South African tour

All-rounder James Faulkner is in danger of missing next month's Test tour of South Africa with a knee injury.

A spanner was thrown into Australia's preparations for the three-match campaign against the world No. 1 Proteas on Monday when he was sent for scans only hours after being named man of the match in the thrilling win over England in the one-day series finale in Adelaide.

Faulkner was due to consult a specialist on Monday night, and a decision by Australian management and medicos on whether he is cleared to tour South Africa is expected to be made on Tuesday.

After a summer in which the Ashes were reclaimed without interruption by injury, the Australians are packing their bags for South Africa with two other members of the squad also wrestling with fitness issues.

Shaun Marsh left Adelaide Oval on Sunday with a calf issue and had scans on Monday, and back-up fast bowler Jackson Bird is nursing a jarred back. Most of Australia's 15-man Test squad are due to fly out for Johannesburg on Wednesday, with only those involved in the three-match Twenty20 series against England staying behind.

Faulkner, 23, was meant to link up with the Australian Twenty20 team in Hobart ahead of the first match at Bellerive Oval on Wednesday, but the injury could not only rule him out of 20-over games but spoil his bid for a Test recall in South Africa.

The first Test is at Centurion on February 12.

The Tasmanian was 12th man this summer as Australia went unchanged in a 5-0 demolition of England in the Ashes. His lone Test remains his appearance in the fifth leg of the series against England at the Oval in August, but his brilliant one-day form has offered a reminder of how destructive an international player he is.

Bird, who missed the first half of his season with a stress fracture of the back sustained in England last year, was pulled out of a Futures League game in Brisbane this week, where he was to get match practice before the tour.

He was supposed to feature for Western Australia's second XI against Queensland seconds because Tasmania had no fixture in the round and was replaced by James Pattinson, as Victoria is also without a match this week.

Pattinson has not played a first-class match since the second Test against England at Lord's last July and used the hit-out with the red ball to good effect, taking 2-33 in 18 overs, including the wicket of opener Luke Pomersbach for a duck. The Queensland team includes Pattinson's Victoria and Australia teammate Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris, who took a wicket with his first ball on Monday.

Fellow Test squad members Nathan Lyon and Chris Rogers are playing in the second XI match between a strong NSW team and South Australia at Blacktown. Rogers, making a cameo for the Redbacks, was five not out overnight after Trent Copeland scored 107 for the Blues.


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